I'm up to my eyeballs in Box-Tops and Campbell's' soup labels right now. It's that time of year--time to close the books. My life has been crazy busy for so many months and it's getting to wind-down a bit for the summer break. But before I get too anxious and excited to have a break, I have to finish counting thousands of little pieces of papers to sort, clip, count, tally, and ship off for redemption. I keep reminding myself that I LOVE BOX-TOPS because it is a truly amazing fund-raiser and cash-maker for the elementary schools. What other way can you get that kind of return without doing almost anything except buying and eating food. (That's the best part of this story, right?)
Many of the products we routinely buy and consume are owned by the General Mills company. They print a mini "coupon" on their products called a Box Top. It's redeemable by schools that are K-8 for 10cents-50cents in CASH a piece. Loads of our favorite cereals, Huggies diapers/wipes, all kinds of products like Old El Paso, Betty Crocker, Kleenex and Ziploc are just some of the products that are part of the General Mills family with these redeemable tokens somewhere one their packaging. When we clip and send those tokens into the schools, they are able to send them to the manufacturer, along with the thousands your friends and classmates also return, for a CHECK for CASH for your elementary school to use at their discretion. Fabulous, Fabulous. (I'll rant about the great labels for education program that Campbell's does in a bit--but they do NOT redeem their labels for CASH, but points to use to purchase products from a catalog instead).
Last year, our elementary school received a check for over $2000 just from the Box-Tops collections we did at school. There are always numerous elementary schools in the nation that go over and beyond and you hear about how they bought a mini-van with their collections. Now that's A LOT of Tops!! But when I'm sorting the bundles I receive into piles and taking note of how it's generally 2-3 kids per class that are bringing in the majority of the tops, I wonder to myself how many of the 22 other families just throw them away. Now I realize that not every family is a huge consumer of General Mill products--but when was the last time you did NOT buy at least some CEREAL that had tops on it. Throwing a top away is like throwing a dime in the garbage every time you finish a box of cereal. That is REAL money.
I think that it is totally altruistic of the General Mills company to donate at least 10 cents of their profits for every product they sell. And when you think of the food industry and how many products go out with a redemptive label on them--it's millions of dollars we are talking about. And I sure, just as the majority of coupons are thrown away without every being used, there is a vast amount of those potential money-makers that are tossed. So here's the plea--THINK OF THE CHILDREN and what their schools need and could use that money for. Last year at my brand new, upper middle-class stocked elementary--the teachers ran out of supplies like paper clips, tape, post-it notes, etc...and there was no money left in the budget to fill those needs in late spring. So the PTO purchased those supplies for the classrooms through funds received by collecting Box Tops. That's amazing. No Cash Drives were done, no complaining about how we don't pay enough taxes.... Money that hadn't been there to begin with in the PTO budget had been filled through a collective drive and later in the year, there was money in the account because of General Mills--that purchases could be made to help the school out. Fabulous!!
So--when you see those little labels, DON'T throw them out. We even have grandmas and grandpas trimming their goods when they purchase them. The majority of our cold cereals have tops on them. There are always Back to School promotions that are going on just prior to school that offer coupons at the register that you can return to the schools for 50-200 Box Top credits. DON'T THROW THOSE AWAY!! 50 pointers are worth $5!! That's an amazing way to accrue lots of cash for your schools!! And they are available at almost every grocery store in the nation via purchase of General Mills products and a Catalina printer at the register. Don't forget to save those print-outs! If you don't have kids or your kids are too old for the school program, pass them along to a friend or neighbor that can turn them into the school. There's a cashier at Albertsons' that always asks the customer if they are going to turn those print-outs in. I'm thrilled that she does that because many people would think that because it doesn't effect them-they can just throw it away. But what goodness that is thrown away!! So just keep an eye on what you already buy, and become a generous contributor to the school programs without ever having to write a check, sponsor a kid, buy some obscure chocolate bar, etc. Just eat--save, and give!!
This is the funniest little story about Box Tops. I took my kids to the YMCA to swim while I sat in the lobby and clipped/sorted/counted the Box Tops into baggies. Lots of people were in and out of the changing rooms and traversing through the glassed area in front of the pool area where I was seated. Nobody even noticed that I had commandeered a whole table and was going to town with my scissors until a couple of the custodial staff came by and asked what I was doing. I told them that I was getting our school's submissions ready to mail in for redemption. The guy kind of chuckled and said, "Oh, for a minute there, I thought you were that lady I saw on TV with all those coupons. The one that got $500 worth of food for $4!" WHAT? It was my turn to laugh because I told him I WAS that lady from TV with all those coupons :) And, interestingly enough--that aired over a year and a half ago and he still remembered my face. I guess no matter where I go--somebody will recognize me--I just don't know what for until they tell me. Too funny.